The Oslo Norway Holiday Special

May 16

The beginning of our drive to the Oslo Festival was not auspicious. The weather was drizzly and cold. We needed to pass through 3 tunnels, catch a 20 minute ferry ride and drive up a snowy mountain.

Ferry Boat Station

This is a big country and that small, yellow
building IS the ferry station.

Little did we know that the highway had been closed due to heavy snow. Even if there had been signs, we, couldn’t have read them anyway.      Nordfjord Moutains

After an hour of driving up through the snow, the sun came out and we realized that there was no one else on the road…The snowy berms reached 7 plus feet…..I know because I trailed my fingers through them. Lovely sunshine right down to Oslo.

Our first stop was at the Viking Museum just outside the city. There were ancient ships from the 9th c. AD  entirely excavated from burial sites. These were wealthy or powerful people wanting their ship and contents for the next world. One was so enormous that we had to climb to a balcony to see the inside.

Gokstad Ship

This spectacular craft was 90 feet long and 15 feet wide. Its burial chamber contained the body of a man in his 40’s. Besides the usual accouterments of guilded bronze, kitchen utensils, beds etc. it also had the bones of 12 horses, 6 dogs and a peacock. He was very special!

On into the city busy with preparations for the combined  celebration of Constitution Day and the revered 1800th century King Karl Johan Day. We drove to the town center Scandia Hotel but they were fully booked. The gracious Concierge reserved us a room at the portside Scandia KNA Hotel having a lovely view of the Fjord from our  balcony.

The mountain beyond was lit up with fairy lights after dark. Scandic hotel room view3

Mike had navigated our way through many dead-end streets and the holiday confusion down town with his uncanny sense of direction and 3 maps.

Our hotel was close to the portside and offered many restaurant choices. Some of the older buildings had been modernized with glass overviews taking full advantage of the bay. The area was very pedestrian friendly with cobbled-stone walkways and occasional fountain centered plazas.

Water-side Bar

May 17

Music from the hotel and the surrounding area woke us. Oslo’s biggest holiday of the year was starting early and with great enthusiasm.  After breakfast we walked to the park to observe the festivities. Individuals and entire families were wearing their regional costumes, some of which (we found out later) dated from the 1800’s and had not changed in color or style.

May 16th Consitution day

Families, youth groups and young adults marched from Johan’s Gate, the main street, passing the Palace with the King and Queen waving. They continued parading and singing through the park and down to the Port. There were many bands, school groups and military units; all singing and cheering with gusto. Many 3 generational families were dressed in regional costumes. The townspeople knew each other by their regional colors.

Most women wore long dresses with fantastic embroidery at the waist and hem. Their families were also color-coordinated, including hats. It was a very social event. Around 5 o’clock we saw groups dispersing to the train station and others evacuating the car parks.

The younger adults stayed on, having gotten into the beer early, and having a wonderful time. We were impressed to see the more sober ones assisting those who became inebriated. Around 7, looking for dinner, we walked toward Karl Johan’s Gate and found it a bit littered with celebratory trash and most of the restaurants had run out of food. We headed back to the wharf area and picked a restaurant over looking the bay. Many milling young people were having a jovial time, and, consequently, so were we.

Oslo, and all of Norway, has much more to offer!

Akershus Slott

Akershus castle has defended Oslo since 13th century and will do so for a long time to come.



About carolinebotwin

Caroline Botwin and her husband Mike are retired educators who have always had a yen for travelling: he with a PH.D and teaching Architectural Engineering plus California wine education, and she having taught high school English, speech and drama. Both wanted to learn first hand about other cultures. While Mike predominately studied buildings and structures and met with winemakers, Caroline hunted for ancient sites and peoples. And kept journals of all their travels.
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